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    Introduction

    For more than half a century, Bill Moyers has been listening to America — a journalist traveling throughout the country, reporting on its people and the stories they have to tell. It all began at the age of 16, when Bill became a cub reporter at the News Messenger in his northeast Texas hometown.

    In 1983, Bill returned to his hometown and talked with the teachers who inspired and encouraged his love of the written word, and examined how Marshall, Texas, was really two towns as he grew up — one black, one white, with no crossing the line in-between, even in the public square.

    In this clip from "Marshall, Texas; Marshall, Texas," Bill sits down with two retired teachers from the public school system where he was educated. — Jan. 11, 1984
  • 1961

    The Bay of Pigs, Castro and a Secret CIA Army of Mercenaries

    In April, the Bay of Pigs invasion failed to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro and President John F. Kennedy accepted "sole responsibility," even though the plan originated with his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    Many members of the invasion force were Miami-based, Cuban exiles clandestinely employed by the US government. Bill told their story in the 1977 CBS Reports documentary, The CIA's Secret Army, revealing how the very same Cuban mercenaries who fought at the Bay of Pigs went on to participate in other undercover operations, including plots to assassinate Castro, the bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73, and ultimately, the Watergate break-in.

    Ten years later, Bill would return to the topic as he connected the dots in The Secret Government, a 90-minute documentary that investigated the Reagan-era Iran-Contra scandal as the latest in a long list of abuses of democratic values that resulted from questionable, quasi-legal intelligence operations — including the use of the Cuban exiles — during the Cold War.

    In this clip from "The CIA's Secret Army," Bill goes over the events that led up to the Bay of Pigs invasion, including the 1960 meeting between Castro and then-Vice President Richard Nixon. The story is recounted by none other than Fidel Castro himself. — June 1977
  • 1962

    Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring Is Published

    In the same year that astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth and the Cuban missile crisis threatened to plunge to world into thermonuclear war, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was published. The shocking exposé decried the effects of chemical pesticides on the environment — and it was a blockbuster.

    To honor the centennial anniversary of Carson's birth, in 2007, Bill broadcast actress Kaiulani Lee's one-woman show, A Sense of Wonder, chronicling the life of the scientist and activist. And he spoke with Lee about the quiet, unassuming biologist and nature writer widely credited with starting the modern environmental movement.

    Bill Moyers Journal — Sept. 21, 2007
  • August 28, 1963

    John Lewis and the March on Washington

    The March on Washington is mostly remembered for Martin Luther King's legendary "I Have a Dream" speech, but many others stood at the podium that day. The youngest and perhaps most defiant speaker was 23-year-old John Lewis, the newly named leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

    "We are tired," Lewis told the crowd, "We are tired of being beat by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again, and then you holler 'Be patient.' How long can we be patient? We want our freedom and we want it now."

    In the summer of 2013, John Lewis, now a longtime congressman from Georgia, spoke with Bill on the 50th anniversary of the March, sharing new details of how the event unfolded — including last-minute conflicts over the tone of his speech. He also discussed the continuing challenges to racial and economic equality, and his unwavering dedication to nonviolence and brotherly love — even when facing inevitable violence and brutality.

    "Sometimes you have to not just dream about what could be," he told Bill. "You get out and push and you pull and you preach. And you create a climate and environment to get those in high places, to get men and women of good will in power to act."

    While visiting the spot of his 1963 March on Washington speech, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), along with Bill, conducts a spontaneous lesson in civil rights history in this clip from "John Lewis Marches On." — July 2013
  • January 1964

    The War on Poverty

    Soon after he succeeded the assassinated John F. Kennedy as president, Lyndon Johnson declared a "War on Poverty" as part of his "Great Society," an agenda of sweeping social programs, inspired in part by FDR's New Deal. Bill and Peter Edelman were working in Washington at the time — Edelman as an aide to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Bill as a special assistant to the president. In this 2012 conversation, they look back at the forces that came together then in an ambitious attempt at ending hunger and hardship.

    Enthusiasm for LBJ's War on Poverty waned as the '60s and '70s progressed. "I thought onward and upward... [but] there are so many things that happened that we didn't foresee," Edelman told Bill. "The economy caught up with us." That, and LBJ's other war — Vietnam — which raged in southeast Asia and drained valuable resources from our problems here at home.

    Peter Edelman explains the origins of the War on Poverty. — June 22, 2012
  • July 1964

    The Civil Rights Act

    On July 2, President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In this essay from 2008, Bill Moyers remembered Martin Luther King Jr.'s push for civil rights legislation and the behind-the-scenes cooperation between King and Johnson that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

    "Lyndon Johnson was no racist but he had not been a civil rights hero, either," Bill said. "Now, as president, he came down on the side of civil disobedience, believing it might quicken America's conscience until the cry for justice became irresistible, enabling him to turn Congress. So King marched and Johnson maneuvered and Congress folded."

    In an essay, Bill recalls the events leading to the Civil Rights Act's passage. — Jan. 18, 2008
  • August 14, 1964

    ‘LBJ’s Road to War’

    In August, what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident took place off the coast of Vietnam, as the US Navy reported being fired upon by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. To this day what really happened is in doubt, but President Johnson was authorized to use conventional US forces in Vietnam without an official declaration of war from Congress, and the first aerial bombing of North Vietnam began.

    In this special 2009 edition of Bill Moyers Journal, "LBJ's Road to War," Bill recalls the events surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin affair and the Vietnam War's continued escalation. He plays White House tapes of Johnson's phone calls with advisors and members of Congress as he sought advice and support for marching America deeper and deeper into a controversial conflict.

    In this clip, Bill reflects on a taped conversation between President Lyndon Johnson and his national security adviser in May 1964. — June 1, 2007
  • March 24, 1965

    Dr. King Marches From Selma to Montgomery

    In March, voting rights activists in Alabama tried to lead a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Their first attempt was brutally beaten back by state and local police. The violence repulsed much of the nation. A second attempt also failed, as Martin Luther King Jr. decided to retreat, avoiding another violent and possibly deadly confrontation with law enforcement. The third, under federal protection, was successful.

    See also: Bill remembers the events of Selma and talks about the movie of the same name in this 2015 web chat at BillMoyers.com.

    In this March 21, 1965 file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., foreground row, fifth from right, waves as marchers stream across the Alabama River on the first of a five-day, 50-mile march to the state capitol at Montgomery, Alabama. (AP Photo/File)
  • July 30, 1965

    Creation of Medicaid and Medicare

    As 81-year-old former President Harry Truman looked on, President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation creating Medicaid and Medicare, providing health services for low income Americans and all those 65 and older. In a 2012 essay weaving behind-the-scenes conversations caught on tape and images from the day, Bill recalls working with Johnson as they fought to sell Medicare to Congress, and explains why he believes everyone still should be entitled to it today.

    Moyers & Company — August 2012
  • August 6, 1965

    Johnson Signs the Voting Rights Act

    The Voting Rights Act was signed into law on Aug. 6, 1965, a year after the murder of three civil rights activists in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and just months after the brutal attack on peaceful protesters in Selma, Alabama. At the signing, President Lyndon Johnson called the act "a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield." The new legislation was meant to enforce the 15th Amendment which, almost a century before, demanded that "the right of US citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude."

    President Johnson meets with Martin Luther King Jr. upon signing the Voting Rights Act. (Photo courtesy of Yoichi R. Okamoto, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum)
  • 1967

    The Long Hot Summer

    Growing unrest caused by racial tensions and the hard despair of life in America's cities led to a long hot summer of violence and looting. In July, riots in Newark, New Jersey, left 27 dead, four were killed in Milwaukee, and in Detroit, there were 43 fatalities, some 1,200 wounded and thousands of arrests.

    Bill spoke with then 91-year-old activist Grace Lee Boggs in 2007, who told him that she didn't like press reports at the time that characterized events in Detroit as riots. She described them instead as "a rebellion... because we understand that there was a righteousness about the young people rising up — it was a rising up, it was a standing up, by young people."

    In the wake of the disturbances, President Johnson appointed Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner to head a commission investigating the causes of urban violence. In its report, the Kerner Commission found that, "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal." On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the report's release in 2008, Bill recalled that, "When the commission's work was done, its findings would shake Lyndon Johnson, and the country. The Kerner Report became a moment of clarity for America. A time when the nation was forced to focus on the harsh realities of racism, poverty and injustice in our cities."

     

    Activist Grace Lee Boggs, 91, has been a part of almost every major movement in the United States in the last 75 years, including labor, civil rights, Black Power, women's rights and environmental justice. — June 15, 2007
  • November 7, 1967

    Public Broadcasting Act of 1967

    Vastly expanding the potential of what was then known as educational broadcasting and making it available to wider audiences than ever before, President Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, establishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and laying the groundwork for PBS and NPR.

    "This Corporation will assist stations and producers who aim for the best in broadcasting good music, in broadcasting exciting plays, and in broadcasting reports on the whole fascinating range of human activity," Johnson remarked before signing the bill. "It will try to prove that what educates can also be exciting."

  • January 30, 1968

    The Tet Offensive

    The Vietnam war kept escalating and the American commitment of troops and dollars kept growing. Experts continued to argue the pros and cons of our involvement there when in January 1968, during the Buddhist holiday of Tet, Viet Cong soldiers took US and South Vietnamese troops by surprise with a powerful offensive, attacking strongholds throughout South Vietnam, including the American Embassy in Saigon. The propaganda victory of the Tet attacks increased public opposition to the war and would lead President Johnson to announce in March that he would not seek re-election as president.

    Even today, "American culture has never fully come to grips with Vietnam," journalist Nick Turse told Bill in a 2013 interview. "It's this half-known history there. These hidden and forbidden histories that just haven't been fully engaged."

    Journalist Nick Turse on the real Vietnam War. — Feb. 8, 2013
  • April 4, 1968

    Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated

    In April, while in Memphis, Tennessee, rallying in support of sanitation workers there, Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Riots exploded in cities across the United States. In a 2010 episode of Bill Moyers Journal, Bill recalled King's last weeks, as he struggled to expand the fight from civil rights to a poor people's campaign across America and speaks with Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander on King's dream of economic justice.

    And on Moyers & Company in April 2013, Moyers discussed King's legacy with theologian James Cone and King biographer Taylor Branch.

    In this essay, Bill reflects on Martin Luther King Jr.'s dreams for America. — April 2, 2010
  • June 6, 1968

    Robert F. Kennedy Assassinated and Humphrey Loses to Nixon

    Two months after Dr. King's death, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) was assassinated in Los Angeles, moments after declaring victory in the California Democratic presidential primary. The turmoil continued into August, as Democrats nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey to be the party's presidential candidate against Republican Richard Nixon even as police and anti-war protesters violently clashed outside the Chicago convention hall. In April 1976, on Bill Moyers Journal, Humphrey recalled the events of 1968 — including Chicago and his November defeat by Nixon — and the rest of his remarkable political career.

    Hubert Humphrey talks with Bill about his 1968 defeat and how he dealt with it in the hours and days afterward. — April 11, 1976
  • February 1970

    Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Is Published

    Maya Angelou's first volume of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published, a groundbreaking, best-selling memoir of her troubled passage from childhood to womanhood. Four years later, in 1973, Bill and Angelou had the first of many televised conversations. In this excerpt from the 1982 premiere of the series Creativity, Bill goes with the writer to Stamps, Arkansas, where she recalls what she felt when she crossed from her home on the "black side" of the tracks to the other side.

    "This was more or less a no man's land here... If you were black you never felt really safe when you simply crossed the railroad tracks... And I used to have to walk over here. Oh gosh, I hated it. I had no protection at all over there. I had an idea of protection on this side. I had my grandmother on this side. I had the church, my uncle, and all my people were on this side. So I had an idea of protection, but there I would be all alone and I loathed it, crossing those railroad tracks."

    Maya Angelou tells Bill why she never felt safe growing up in the white section of her hometown of Stamps, Arkansas. — Nov. 21, 1973
  • April 22, 1970

    The First Earth Day

    As global consciousness of the dangers of air and water pollution continued to rise, the first Earth Day celebrations were held around the world.

    The years following have seen growing alarm about climate change and its potentially fatal impact on the planet, as well as a chorus of denials from conservatives and polluting industries. Thirty years after the first Earth Day protests, in his 2001 documentary Trade Secrets, Bill examined the many chemicals that have been introduced into our environment in the second half of the 20th century.

    And from Moyers & Company, see interviews with Bill McKibben, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace, and environmental activists Tim de Christopher, Sandra Steingraber and 18-year-old Kelsey Julianna.

    To find out just how pervasive chemicals are in our environment, Bill volunteers to get his blood tested in this clip from "Trade Secrets." — March 26, 2001
  • April 30, 1970

    The Invasion of Cambodia and Kent State

    Also in April 1970, American and South Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia. President Nixon justified the so-called "incursion" with evidence that the Viet Cong and North Vietnam were using Cambodia as a staging area for attacks against the south. The following month, in the wake of the incursion, new anti-war protests began at colleges across the nation. Four students were killed by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University and a national student strike followed. A few days later, two more students died at Mississippi's Jackson State University. In two broadcasts, in 1972 and 1974 — "Justice Delayed" and "Struggle for Justice" — Bill Moyers Journal investigated what really caused the Kent State shootings.

    A clip from the Bill Moyers Journal episode "Struggle for Justice" about Kent State and what happened there. — Jan. 16, 1974
  • January 12, 1971

    Norman Lear’s All in the Family

    Antiwar protests continued in 1971, and in May, more than 12,000 were arrested in Washington, DC, believed to be the largest such police action in American history. Meanwhile, The New York Times and The Washington Post published the Pentagon Papers — a secret, in-depth government study on US involvement in Vietnam (and Bill published his first book, Listening to America: A Traveler Rediscovers His Country).

    In January, another leap forward in a changing America, challenging accepted norms and social values: Norman Lear's groundbreaking sitcom All in the Family premiered on CBS. Lear and his work are featured in two episodes of Bill's 1982-83 series, Creativity.

    Legendary TV producer Norman Lear talks about his creative process and the "correlation between inspiration and madness." — April 9, 1982
  • February 21, 1972

    “A Cancer on the Presidency”

    In February 1972, Richard Nixon became the first US president to visit the People's Republic of China, a diplomatic triumph, and in November, he was elected to a second term in the White House. But despite these successes, in June, the seeds of his downfall had been planted as the White House "plumbers" were caught breaking into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC.

    In the spring of 1973, the Senate Watergate Committee convened and learned from John Dean that he had told Nixon, "There is a growing cancer on the presidency." It's also revealed to the committee that Nixon taped many of his conversations in the White House and had an "enemies list" of media and political opponents. In October, Vice President Agnew resigned in an entirely different scandal, Gerald Ford became the new vice president and, in what became known as "the Saturday Night Massacre," Nixon fired Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox as Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resigned. (In November, Nixon would infamously insist to the press, "I'm not a crook.")

    Bill chronicled the whole sordid story in this award-winning edition of Bill Moyers Journal, "An Essay on Watergate."

    In this clip, Bill examines the Cold War mentality and asks whether it is responsible for the Watergate scandal. — Oct. 31, 1973
  • May 1974

    Nixon Resigns and Some Serenity in the Rockies

    In a follow-up to his "An Essay on Watergate," on Bill Moyers Journal in January 1974, Bill presented "A Question of Impeachment," a look at the history of impeachment in America and an examination of the evidence as pressure grew on Congress to take action against Richard Nixon. In July, the House Judiciary Committee passed three articles of impeachment against the president and in August, the Senate prepared to place him on trial. But Nixon resigned — only to be pardoned by the new president, Gerald Ford, the following month.

    Amidst all the sturm und drang of the Watergate crisis, in May 1974, Bill took a brief and welcome respite, with a moment of serenity in the mountains. He presented Living Free in the Rockies, a profile of Stuart Mace, a genetic biologist-turned-dog musher, who gave up the stress of the academic world to live on 400 acres of land near Aspen, Colorado.

    Bill takes a look at the reasons some were calling for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. — Jan. 22, 1974
  • April 30, 1975

    The Fall of Saigon

    With the Watergate drama at an end, much of the nation's attention shifted from domestic politics to tensions abroad. In the spring of 1975, the withdrawal of the American military was all but complete, and North Vietnam began a major offensive against South Vietnam. The south's military and government swiftly collapsed, the capital of Saigon fell, and the US airlifted thousands of American civilians and South Vietnamese refugees out of the country. Meanwhile, the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and "the killing fields" were born, with more than a million murdered and buried in mass graves. Against this backdrop and other international news, Moyers launched Bill Moyers International Report, premiering with an interview with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

    Secretary of State Henry Kissinger talks about his vision for a future based on the stability of the main powers. — Jan. 16, 1975
  • April 1976

    The Church Commission

    Created in the aftermath of Watergate's revelations of improprieties in the intelligence community, the Church Committee (its chair was Idaho Sen. Frank Church) uncovered abuses of power against foreign governments — including assassination attempts against Cuba's Fidel Castro — and illegal intelligence gathering aimed at US citizens. A restructuring of America's spy community was demanded.

    In 1987, Bill would explore and build on many of the Church Commission's findings in his documentary The Secret Government, a controversial and provocative documentary that used Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal as the jumping-off point for an excoriating investigation of decades of unaccountable intelligence operations during the Cold War.

    Sen. Frank Church (left) and Sen. John Tower and poison dart gun at 1975 Senate Committee hearing. (Photo by Henry Griffin/AP)
  • July 1976

    The Year of America’s Bicentennial and Jimmy Carter

    As the nation celebrated its 200th birthday, Bill Moyers Journal returned with a series of thought-provoking documentaries and conversations about life in bicentennial America. The new season premiered with "Rosedale: The Way It Is," a documentary examining racial tensions in a neighborhood in Queens, New York City, an almost totally white community of 6,000 families torn asunder when African-American families begin to move in.

    Another episode of the series, "Cowboys" looked at the hard life of cowboys in northwestern Colorado who, despite the low pay and difficult conditions, keep alive the tradition of the American West.

    1976 also was an election year and on a special edition of the public television series USA: People and Politics, Bill sat down with former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, who had emerged as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. It was one of the first, in-depth TV conversations with the man who in November would defeat incumbent President Gerald Ford for the White House.

    Jimmy Carter with Bill Moyers.
  • 1977

    Fires in South Bronx

    A particularly hard year for New York City, which, while slowly recovering from near bankruptcy was faced with skyrocketing crime rates, a plague of arson, a summer blackout with serious looting and a serial murderer known as the Son of Sam. In March, Bill, who had become senior correspondent for CBS Reports, presented "The Fire Next Door."

    Producer Tom Spain recalled the situation in the public broadcasting newspaper Current: "Just nine miles north of our office on West 57th Street, the Bronx was burning. Thirty thousand buildings had been torched. The Bronx is big, a city bigger than Buffalo. A million and a half people lived there. A few had turned parts of this city into a ruin resembling Berlin after World War II."

    Moyers said in his intro, "We don't approach a disaster like the death of the Bronx with the same urgency and commitment we carry to problems abroad... So the vice president travels to Europe and Japan, the secretary of state to the Middle East and Russia, the UN ambassador to Africa. No one of comparable stature comes here." Shortly after the documentary aired, President Carter came to the South Bronx.

    In this award-winning documentary, Bill takes a breathtaking look at the arson and crime that nearly destroyed the Bronx in the 1970s. — 1977
  • 1977

    Star Wars

    May marked the release of the first Star Wars movie, directed by George Lucas, an otherworldly escape from the grit and danger of the city. In 1999, Moyers and Lucas examined the symbolism and meaning of the massively popular films in The Mythology of Star Wars. Lucas talked about his efforts to tell old myths in new ways, the role of faith in his own life and the influence of his mentor, Joseph Campbell.

    "I don't see Star Wars as profoundly religious," he told Bill. "I see Star Wars as taking all of the issues that religion represents and trying to distill them down into a more modern and more easily accessible construct that people can grab onto to accept the fact that there is a greater mystery out there."

    Using extensive film clips from the Star Wars saga, the discussion explored how the continuing battle between the forces of light and darkness is best waged when we believe in a force greater than ourselves.

    In this "Moyers Moment," George Lucas talks candidly about his personal mentors — including Joseph Campbell and Francis Ford Coppola. — June 18, 1999
  • 1979

    American Family Farms in Decline

    At a time when the news was dominated by the Iranian hostage crisis, a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor and the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan, struggling American farming families drove their tractors to Washington, DC, and blocked traffic to demand higher prices for crops and protest farm mortgage foreclosures — a phenomenon that would grow even worse in the 1980s.

    In February, Bill Moyers Journal broadcast "Harvest," the story of George and Hansine Fisher, New Yorkers who moved to North Dakota to eke out a living by farming land inherited by Mrs. Fisher. Their struggle is a microcosm of the plight of small farmers all across America.

    Bill takes a closer look at how small family farms are disappearing all across the United States. — Feb. 5, 1979
  • 1980

    Carter vs. Reagan and the Growing Political Power of Black America

    A pivotal election year: In 1980, incumbent President Jimmy Carter was challenged by Republican Ronald Reagan. During a conversation with Bill the year before, Reagan discussed his evolution as a conservative — despite his early days as a supporter of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal — and his qualifications to run for president.

    In April, Bill Moyers Journal aired "The Black Agenda," featuring interviews with Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Dick Gregory and Vernon Jordan on the growing political power of African-American voters — and their priorities as the presidential election approached. In May, the Journal broadcast "A Reporter's Notebook: Money and Politics," examining the rise of political action committees, and included an interview with Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Lee Dreyfus, whose shoestring, populist election campaign spent only $100,000 for a victory in the party primary. In September, Bill looked at the growing role of Christian fundamentalists in American politics, traveling to an evangelical convention in Dallas in "Evangelicals: The New Right," and speaking with televangelist Jerry Falwell and conservative activist Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

    (Also of note: July's two-part Bill Moyers Journal: "Judge: The Law and Frank Johnson," a profile of and conversation with the noted federal jurist from Alabama who defied the segregationist South and fought for civil rights and racial equality.)

    In this clip, black Americans talk about the issues that concern them in the months leading up to the 1980 presidential election. — March 27, 1980
  • 1981

    Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman justice of the US Supreme Court

    In September, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman justice of the United States Supreme Court. Six years later, she gave her first televised interview as a justice to Bill as part of his series, In Search of the Constitution. She tells Bill why the Constitution should be important to all Americans.

    "Because it touches all of our lives, every day. It touches every one of us — you, and me, and everyone in this country. ... these are basic — the extent to which Congress has power to take action touches all of us. Did Congress have the power to enact Social Security legislation? We now think that it did, don't we? And that touches a lot of people."

    Also in 1981, six years before their classic The Power of Myth conversations, Bill sat down with Joseph Campbell for the first time in a two-part conversation, Myths to Live By.

    The retired Supreme Court Justice cast the deciding vote in affirming Roe v. Wade in 1992, but things could have turned out differently. — June 4, 1987
  • 1982

    People Like Us, Six Great Ideas, Creativity

    In April, Bill presented People Like Us, a documentary focusing on the impact of President Reagan's budget cuts on the poor "who have slipped through the safety net... the truly needy people whom the president said would not be hurt."

    On PBS in October, Six Great Ideas featured Bill at Colorado's Aspen Institute in conversation with philosopher Mortimer Adler about western civilization's six greatest philosophical concepts: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty — "the ideas we judge by;" and Liberty, Equality and Justice — "the ideas we act on."

    Also in 1982, the Creativity series premiered, examining the nature of inspiration and creative expression and interviewing noted artists and performers, including Maya Angelou, Norman Lear, John Huston, animator Chuck Jones, violinist Pinchas Zukerman and painter Gerald Scheck.

    In this clip from "People Like Us," Moyers visits a soup kitchen in Wisconsin to report on what President Reagan's welfare cuts were doing to poor people. — April 21, 1982 (© CBS)
  • 1983

    Alice Walker and The Color Purple Win the Pulitzer

    In April, Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for her extraordinary novel, The Color Purple.

    Twenty years later, in March 2003, as the war with Iraq began, Bill spoke with Walker on NOW about the importance of words in wartime, the power of meditation and the enduring legacy of The Color Purple.

    "The reason it's called The Color Purple is that we used to think that purple was rare," Walker told Bill. "I mean, just like we thought incest was rare, or we thought that a certain kind of beauty was rare, or that we thought whatever was rare. Gay people, we thought that was rare. In fact, it is everywhere, it is in everything."

  • 1984

    Robert Penn Warren Named First US Poet Laureate

    Novelist and poet Robert Penn Warren, author of All the King's Men, became the nation's first poet laureate in 1984. Eight years earlier, Bill Moyers Journal presented "A Conversation with Robert Penn Warren," in which he told Bill, "If you write a poem or read the poem — someone else has written one that suits you, that pleases you — this is a way of making your own life make sense to you. It's your way of trying to give shape to experience. And the satisfaction of living is feeling that you're living significantly."

    Also, in 1984, A Walk through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers premiered on PBS with "Marshall, Texas; Marshall, Texas" (see Introduction). Other programs in the series included "The Democrat and the Dictator," "Come to the Fairs" and "Postwar Hopes, Cold War Dreams."

    Poet Robert Penn Warren
  • July 4, 1984

    The Psyche of Black America

    In 1984, actors and activists Ruby Dee and her husband, Ossie Davis, joined Bill for a two-hour special, The Second American Revolution, about racism and the civil rights struggle — subjects the couple knew well from personal experience in their eyewitness roles as the master and mistress of ceremonies at the 1963 March on Washington, and as friends of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

    "We came from slavery with the strength of true believers, in our God, in our country, in our great documents. And we've tried to get a toehold, to heal the old wounds and be made whole again," Dee proclaimed. "But America has met us with a false face — with a racism that has made rage the basic rhythm of our lives. A racism that has trampled our self-esteem and numbed hope. Racism, that cancer on the bosom of our nation, that gnaws at the psyche of black America and keeps us screaming and shaking for relief."

    Dee talks about the ongoing racism that "has trampled our self-esteem and numbed hope." — April 18, 1984
  • 1986

    Reagan’s Domestic Cuts and “White Flight”

    With severe budget cuts during the Reagan years, a large part of federal urban funding disappeared, contributing to the decline of the middle class and "white flight" from American cities. In January, Bill presented The Vanishing Family — Crisis in Black America. This groundbreaking and controversial 90-minute documentary zeroed in on Newark, New Jersey, as a microcosm for urban decay and especially the crisis of teen pregnancy, unmarried mothers and fatherless families in the inner city. The New York Times described the film as "one of the best television reports in years," and said that it "redeems television journalism."

    Later in 1986, Bill confronted another crisis in a community of color with One River, One Country. He talked with people who live along the banks of the Rio Grande to examine immigration policy, security along the border and the special but troubled relationship between the US and Mexico.

    In this clip from "One River, One Country," the debate over whether to give Mexico most favored nation status is considered. — Sept. 3, 1986
  • 1987

    Reagan Confesses to the Iran-Contra Affair

    In March 1987, President Reagan addressed the nation: "A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions tell me that's true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not." His public confession acknowledged the core truth of what had become known as the Iran-Contra affair — selling arms to enemy state Iran to free American hostages in Lebanon and turning over money from the weapons sales to Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

    In July, Col. Oliver North testified for six days before Senate Iran-Contra hearings, admitting that he had shredded evidence. The following year, he and three others were indicted for defrauding the government. Bill Moyers told the whole sorry tale in this 1990 Frontline episode, "High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Iran-Contra Scandal."

    This clip focuses on the phrase from the US Constitution — "high crimes and misdemeanors" — on which the question of impeachment of the president of the United States falls. — Nov. 27, 1990
  • August 1987

    FCC Rescinds the Fairness Doctrine

    In August, the FCC rescinded the Fairness Doctrine that required an equitable and balanced representation of viewpoints on the airwaves, opening the gates for politically extreme talk radio and TV. This September 2008 Bill Moyers Journal segment, "Rage on the Radio," investigated the murder of two and wounding of six in a Kentucky church and the possibility that the hate crime was linked to the shooter's obsession with right-wing radio and literature.

    "Rage on the Radio" — Sept. 12, 2008
  • 1988

    Joseph Campbell, the Power of Myth & Big Ideas

    Much of the nation was riveted to the TV set when Bill joined author and scholar Joseph Campbell in a series of extraordinary conversations taped in the years just before Campbell's death. Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth was first broadcast by PBS on six successive nights in June 1988 and captured viewers' imaginations with its examination of myths as a universal need throughout human history to make sense of the world and everything that lies beyond it. Newsweek magazine wrote, "Campbell has become one of the rarest of intellectuals in American life: a serious thinker who has been embraced by the popular culture." To this day, this classic series and its companion book are admired and cherished.

    Also in 1988, Bill's A World of Ideas debuted. This first series of conversations with artists, writers, philosophers and scientists premiered on PBS in September; an engaging collection of interviews that included Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, playwright August Wilson, film producer David Puttnam, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky and Saint Lucian poet and playwright Derek Walcott.

    "The Power of Myth" was one of the most popular TV series in the history of public television, and continues to inspire new audiences. — June 1988
  • 1989

    The Power of the Word

    September marked the premiere of The Power of the Word, the first of several Moyers series created to introduce viewers to the joys and relevance of contemporary poetry. The series featured such poets as James Autry, Robert Bly, Lucille Clifton, Joy Harjo, Garrett Kauro Hongo, Galway Kinnell, Octavio Paz and many more.

    Poet Li-Young Lee reads his poem "The Gift" in "Voices of Memory," part of "The Power of the Word" series. — Oct. 6, 1989
  • 1989

    The Roots of Hatred

    A tumultuous year for Communism culminated in November with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In June, across China and in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, pro-democracy demonstrators had been arrested and beaten, with possibly thousands killed. But that same month, Solidarity leader Lech Walesa was elected president of Poland and the Eastern bloc began to dissolve.

    In the 1991 series Beyond Hate, Bill talked with Walesa and the Chinese dissident Lu Li, one of the organizers of the Tiananmen Square protests. Bill also traveled to Ireland, Jerusalem, South Central Los Angeles, the Anatomy of Hate conference in Oslo, Norway, and a classroom in Brooklyn. He spoke with South Africa's Nelson Mandela, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, Los Angeles gang members, Palestinian and Israeli youth and many others, seeking the roots of hatred and ways to push back against it.

    Irish activist Mairead Maguire won the Nobel Peace Prize for organizing a movement against violence in Northern Ireland. It was her response to hate. — November 1989
  • February 11, 1990

    Nelson Mandela Freed

    Anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was freed in February after 27 years in South African prisons. In 1991, he spoke with Bill in the special report Beyond Hate (for more, see 1989).

    In March, Bill also presented the documentary, From D-Day to the Rhine, in which eight World War II veterans retraced the battlefields of their youth, from Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge, and finally the Rhine — and recounted their struggles in the postwar years to make peace with what happened to them.

    Bill also wrapped up his first World of Ideas series, exploring the ideas and values shaping our future in half-hour conversations with scientists, writers, artists and historians.

    In this clip from "Beyond Hate," Nelson Mandela talks about his personal ability to rise above hatred and cruelty during his 27 years in prison. — May 13, 1991
  • October 1991

    Nadine Gordimer Receives Nobel Prize

    In October, the anti-apartheid South African writer Nadine Gordimer received the Nobel Prize for literature. In her 1990 conversation with Bill for A World of Ideas, she told him, "I've come to understand politics through what politics does to people, not through theory," a theme echoed in her Nobel acceptance speech: "In repressive regimes anywhere — whether in what was the Soviet bloc, Latin America, Africa, China — most imprisoned writers have been shut away for their activities as citizens striving for liberation against the oppression of the general society to which they belong," Gordimer said. "Others have been condemned by repressive regimes for serving society by writing as well as they can; for this aesthetic venture of ours becomes subversive when the shameful secrets of our times are explored deeply..."

    The year also marked the first two decades of Bill's television career. In 20 Years of Listening to America, he reviewed many of his favorite and most thought-provoking programs, including his conversations with philosophers, historians, politicians and regular Americans, as well as clips from documentaries about racial bigotry, Watergate and Vietnam.

    In this 1990 clip, writer and political activist Nadine Gordimer, who won the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature, talks to Bill about why she got involved in black politics in South Africa. — Nov. 4, 1990
  • July 1992

    Bill Clinton Is Elected President

    Riots broke out in Los Angeles after the acquittal of two policemen charged with beating Rodney King, and a recession continued in the United States as government deficits grew and unemployment almost reached 8 percent, with 10 million Americans out of work. In a special report, Minimum Wages: The New Economy, Bill traveled to Milwaukee to see how economic changes were destroying the lives and livelihoods of hardworking Americans. Over the years, he returned to Milwaukee several times to see how two of the families in the film — the Stanleys, who are black; and the Neumanns, who are white — are dealing with a declining standard of living.

    In July, former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton was nominated for president with Tennessee Sen. Al Gore as his running mate. In November, they defeated incumbent President George W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle. Shortly before the Democratic convention, Clinton had this conversation with Bill as part of the PBS series Listening to America.

    "Anybody who says the system's not working is absolutely right," Clinton said. "How in the world could you think the system is working? We've had declining wages for more than a decade. We've had declining productivity, compared to other countries. We quadrupled the debt and reduced our investment in the future. The system doesn't work."

    Bill talked with former Gov. Bill Clinton in Little Rock, Arkansas, shortly before he became the Democratic presidential nominee. — July 7, 1992
  • 1993

    Unconventional Medicine

    In late January, The New England Journal of Medicine published an article that found the "frequency of use of unconventional therapy in the United States is far higher than previously reported." Just days later, Healing and the Mind, an Emmy Award-winning series of five programs premiered on PBS, a breakthrough examination of alternative medicine and the role of the mind in illness, including stress-related sickness and chronic disease. The series heightened public and professional awareness and the National Institutes of Health and several colleges and universities created new programs dedicated to the study of alternative therapies.

    In this clip from "The Mind Body Connection," Bill speaks with Marette Flies, a young woman who suffers from lupus, about how she may have been classically conditioned to take less medication. — Feb. 22, 1993
  • 1993

    President Clinton Signs NAFTA

    In December, President Clinton signed NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. A decade later Bill Moyers Reports: Trading Democracy looked at the impact of a NAFTA provision that gives multinationals the power to demand compensation if a law of the US, Mexico or Canada threatens profits.

    In this 2013 segment from Moyers & Company, financial expert Yves Smith and economist Dean Baker discussed the aftermath of NAFTA and the dangers of a similar trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Smith told Bill:

    "The North American trade agreement in the end wound up helping corporations and didn't do much for American workers. In fact, there have been economists who've said that NAFTA produced as much as nearly a million job losses in the US... the whole notion of this agreement is to facilitate the movement of capital and to give even more privileges than it has now... workers are basically at the back of the bus on this one."

    In this clip from Trading Democracy, Bill Moyers introduces NAFTA's Chapter 11 provision, which gives Canada, Mexico and US corporations the right to sue governments. — Feb. 5, 2002
  • 1994

    A Year of Firsts

    In the "Contract with America" midterm elections, the GOP picked up eight seats in Senate and 54 in House, giving them a House majority for the first time in four decades. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela became that country's first black president.

    In February, Bill featured actor Frederick Morsell in Presenting Mr. Frederick Douglass, a recreation of the ex-slave and abolitionist's famous last speech, "The Lesson of the Hour," on slavery and human rights. And in April, Bill Moyers Journal presented a conversation with and portrait of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Laureate Rita Dove. The youngest and first African-American poet laureate, she hoped to make poetry accessible to all: "To bring the intimate public and still maintain the quality of intimacy is something that poetry can do... Another thing, I think, about poetry that makes it so potentially dangerous is that it can tell the truth, but it tells it in a way that convinces. You cannot set it aside."

    In this excerpt from Douglass' speech, he talks about the creation of an image of black men as criminals in the 1890s through constant accusations of sexual assault and frequent extrajudicial hangings. — Feb. 19, 1994
  • 1995

    Oklahoma City

    In April, right-wing extremist Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Federal office building in Oklahoma City with a truck bomb, killing 168 people, including children in the building's day care center. A year later, Bill joined Tom Brokaw at the site for a special edition of Dateline NBC. "The tears have not stopped in Oklahoma City," Moyers said. "I met no stoics there. People admit their grief and all this time later their sorrow seeps from the wreckage of that day."

  • 1995

    The Language of Life

    The Language of Life with Bill Moyers premiered in the spring of 1995. The eight-part poetry series on PBS introduced many viewers for the first time to such award-winning poets as Adrienne Rich (video, right), David Mura, Daisy Zamora and Gary Snyder, through interviews and performance. The Language of Life combined intimate, one-on-one interviews and public performances — several with musical accompaniment by the famed Paul Winter Consort.

    Adrienne Rich reads "Prospective Immigrants Please Note." Filmed at the biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. — July 28, 1995
  • 1996

    South African Truth and Reconciliation

    In April, South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission held its first televised hearings examining its long and violent history of apartheid. In 1999, Bill reported on the commission's remarkable human rights investigation in Facing the Truth with Bill Moyers. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who chaired the commission, told Bill, "What I did learn were, as with two contrary things, that one was to be overwhelmed by the depth of depravity to which we can sink. That's the one side. And that bowls you over. But that's not the only truth that comes out because the other thing that the commission revealed is that people are incredible. People are a glorious creation; that just as much as we have the extraordinary capacity for evil, so we have a remarkable capacity for good."

    In this clip from "Facing the Truth," Archbishop Desmond Tutu says there's catharsis in recounting the horrors of the past. — March 30, 1999
  • 1997

    Bill T. Jones: Still/Here

    In 1997, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the first substantial decline in AIDS deaths in the United States — 47 percent from the prior year, due to the increased use of highly active antiretroviral therapy. President Clinton announced that the search for an effective vaccine for HIV would be a top priority.

    In Bill T. Jones: Still/Here, the dancer/choreographer told Bill about his own HIV positive status and the death from AIDS of his partner Arnie Zane. Moyers traveled with Jones as he workshopped a new production, in which people with life-threatening diseases, including breast cancer and AIDS, transformed their feelings into movement.

    Bill talks with dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones about race, HIV and Jones' highly acclaimed dance, "Still/Here." — Jan. 15, 1997
  • 1998

    Two Washington Scandals

    In August 1998, President Clinton testified before a grand jury and admitted to "inappropriate" contact with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. In September, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr released his report on the scandal, and in December, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives (but acquitted in a Senate trial the following year). Meanwhile, in Frontline: Washington's Other Scandal, Bill continued his look at the bipartisan, corrosive effect of money in politics, reporting on how both political parties cynically and shamelessly contrived to bend and break campaign finance laws in the 1996 election.

    Bill talks about the legal bribery built into our political system. — Oct. 6, 1998
  • March 30, 1998

    Moyers on Addiction: Close to Home

    The legislative push to establish parity for treatment programs in private health insurance and wider awareness of addiction as a disease were greatly advanced with the PBS broadcast of Moyers on Addiction: Close to Home. The five-episode series focused on the physical effects of drug and alcohol addiction on the brain and body, the emotional effect on friends and loved ones, and the process and politics of recovery and rehabilitation. Few have been spared its impact, including Moyers' own family.

    In this clip from "The Politics of Addiction," Bill examines the failure of the war on drugs, the racial divide in sentencing and how America's drug policies are "divorced from reality." — March 1998
  • 1999

    Campaign Cash Reforms

    In 1999, several bills intended to advance the cause of campaign finance were introduced in Congress, versions of which eventually evolved into the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. But federal campaign money is only one aspect of money's corrupting influence in government and politics. In Free Speech for Sale, first telecast in June 1999, Bill and legal and public interest advocates examine how industries with deep pockets use their access to the media to overwhelm public debate, from conditions in North Carolina's hog industry to the defeat of the McCain tobacco bill to passage of the Telecom Act of 1996, a massive giveaway of the public airwaves.

    And in November, in Frontline: Justice for Sale, Bill examined the impact of campaign cash on the judicial election process and the growing concern among judges themselves that campaign donations may be corrupting America's courts. The broadcast included a rare interview with US Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy who warn of the threat to judicial integrity.

    In this clip from "Justice For Sale," Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy condemns the destructive impact of judicial campaign contributions on the integrity of our court system. — November 1999
  • 2000

    On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying

    The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization described the year 2000 and the premiere broadcast of On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying as milestones in the growing national movement for hospice care. Across four nights and six hours of programs, Bill journeyed from the bedsides of the dying to the front lines of the movement to improve end-of-life treatment. The series crossed the country, from hospitals to hospices to homes, capturing intimate stories and candid conversations on how each of us cope with our inevitable demise. The United States Senate held two major hearings and the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life at the Duke University Divinity School was established.

    In this clip from "A Death of One's Own," Bill documents the final days of three dying people, all of whom had specific plans for how they wanted to die. — September 2000
  • 2001

    9/11 Attack

    On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida terrorists attacked New York City and Washington, DC, as two jetliners toppled the twin towers of the World Trade Center and a third plane slammed into the Pentagon. A fourth aircraft, believed to be headed for Washington, crashed in Pennsylvania, perhaps brought down by its passengers. More than 3,000 were killed in the attacks, including some 400 firefighters and police. In October, the allied invasion of Afghanistan began against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

    Just three days after the 9/11 attacks, PBS broadcast The 11th of September: Moyers in Conversation, a special in which Bill tried to find meaning in what had happened and examined how it had changed America and the world. Among those appearing were psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, Afghan-American author Tamim Ansary, Harvard religion professor Diana Eck, choreographer Bill T. Jones and director Julie Taymor.

    Julie Taymor talks with Bill about the power of religion and the 9/11 attacks. — Sept. 20, 2001
  • December 25, 2001

    Joseph Stiglitz Accepts Nobel Prize

    In December 2001, Columbia University's Joseph E. Stiglitz accepted the Nobel Prize for economics. In his Nobel lecture, Stiglitz said, "We have the good fortune to live in democracies, in which individuals can fight for their perception of what a better world might be like. We as academics have the good fortune to be further protected by our academic freedom. With freedom comes responsibility: the responsibility to use that freedom to do what we can to ensure that the world of the future be one in which there is not only greater economic prosperity, but also more social justice."

    In May and June of 2014, in a two-part conversation with Bill on Moyers & Company, Stiglitz spoke further of economics and social justice when he called for sweeping tax reform: "We have a tax system that reflects not the interest of the middle. We have a tax system that reflects the interest of the one percent... What I want to do is create a tax system that has incentives to create jobs... That seems to me common sense, particularly in a time like today, when 20 million Americans need a full-time job and can't get one."

    You know those people who always take and never give back? Economist Joseph E. Stiglitz says that's exactly how many of our top corporations are behaving, by paying little or no taxes whatsoever. — May 30, 2014
  • January 2002

    US Opens Gitmo; Bush Authorizes Force in Iraq

    Four months after 9/11, the US opened its detention camp for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. That same month, Bill's new series, NOW, premiered on PBS. On NOW, Bill Moyers Journal and Moyers & Company, Moyers frequently analyzed and discussed human rights violations involving the detainees at Guantanamo, the use of torture and the woeful implications for American democracy. See his NOW conversation with author and now-US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power; Journal interviews with The New Yorker's Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side, and human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, author of Torture Team; and on Moyers & Company, "Reckoning with Torture" with Larry Siems, director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center, and film director and screenwriter Doug Liman.

    In October, arguing that Iraq was in collusion with al-Qaida and building "weapons of mass destruction," President Bush signed a joint congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq. See Moyers's April 2007 award-winning report, Buying the War on the media's lack of investigative reporting and its kowtowing to the White House and Pentagon during the buildup to war with Iraq.

    In this clip, Samantha Power explains why the interrogations and torture at Guantanamo Bay fly in the face of the framers' Bill of Rights. — Oct. 17, 2003
  • 2003

    Invasion of Iraq Begins

    In March 2003, the invasion of Iraq began. American troops captured Baghdad and the regime of Saddam Hussein collapsed. In May, President George W. Bush announced, "Mission Accomplished," but the trouble had only begun.

    Reporter Bob Simon talks to Bill about his 2002 "60 Minutes" report investigating the Bush administration's claims there was collusion between the terrorists and the Iraqi government. — April 25, 2007
  • 2004

    9/11 Commission’s Report

    In July 2004, the 9/11 Commission released its official report on the 2001 terrorist attacks, calling for a restructuring of America's intelligence-gathering services. PBS aired a Moyers special, 9/11: for the Record, an analysis of the 9/11 Commission's findings. It connected the dots of what happened that day with the warning signs leading up to the tragedy. The special revealed the agonizing close calls, missteps, and outright failures of two successive administrations, as well as America's intelligence and security agencies in the months and years before the attacks.

    In this clip, Moyers goes over the events that led up to the 9/11 attacks and the threat level as it was perceived by the FBI at the time. — Sept. 10, 2004
  • 2005

    Hurricane Katrina Rips the Gulf Coast

    In late August, Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast, with New Orleans hit especially hard after levees broke and the city flooded. The storm killed more than 1,800 people, and caused more than $115 billion in damage. When President Bush finally visited the devastated city, he told FEMA chief Michael Brown, "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job." A week later, Brown resigned after massive criticism for incompetence.

    Two years later, in 2007, Bill Moyers Journal: Katrina Revisited examined what America could learn from the disaster and its aftermath. Melissa Harris Lacewell (now Melissa Harris Perry) told Moyers, "Racial injustice allowed for environmental injustice because we saw poor people and southern people and black people as less valuable to the nation."

    In October 2005, just weeks after Katrina, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, was indicted for his role in blowing the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame, part of a campaign to retaliate against her husband, who found evidence that contrary to White House claims, Iraq's Saddam Hussein was not building nuclear weapons of mass destruction. In 2007, Libby was found guilty, despite Bush White House colleagues defending his "character." On Bill Moyers Journal, Bill delivered a commentary: "All the Beltway warriors can muster is a plea of mercy for one of their own who lied to cover their tracks." On July 2, 2007, President Bush commuted Libby's 30-month sentence.

    Melissa Harris Lacewell and environmental activist Mike Tidwell discuss what we'd learned on the second anniversary of Katrina. — Aug. 17, 2007
  • 2006

    Jack Abramoff Pleads Guilty & the Battle Over Net Neutrality

    In January, Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Later in the year, PBS aired Moyers on America: Capitol Crimes, in which Bill told the amazing but true saga of Abramoff, the freewheeling, big-spending lobbyist and convicted felon, and how he swindled democracy. In Moyers' words, "Following the money in this story leads through a bizarre maze of cocktail parties, golf courses, private jets, four-star restaurants, sweatshops — and the aura of chandeliered rooms frequented by the high and mighty of Washington."

    In this clip, Moyers reports on the "K Street Project" that Jack Abramoff and his cronies undertook to maintain control in Washington. — Sept. 29, 2006
  • 2006

    The Net @ Risk

    Among Jack Abramoff's lobbying clients were telecoms fighting against the principle of a free and open internet — a concept otherwise known as net neutrality. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, "The push for net neutrality started in 2006, when Democratic lawmakers introduced bills in both the House and Senate forbidding internet service providers from giving preference to chosen websites."

    In October 2006, in Moyers on America: The Net @ Risk, Bill described how large and powerful corporations wanted to prohibit net neutrality and turn the internet into a toll road. Media activist and scholar Bob McChesney told Bill, "The genius of the internet was that it made the First Amendment a living document again for millions of Americans." Recognizing its importance to democracy, Bill devoted other broadcasts to the net neutrality issue.

    The story of one town's struggle against multimillion-dollar phone and cable companies to build locally operated high-speed internet. — Oct. 15, 2006
  • 2007

    Iraq Surge & Virginia Tech Killings

    At the start of 2007, almost four years after "Mission Accomplished," President Bush announced an Iraq "surge," the deployment of 21,500 more troops and additional assistance to combat continuing Iraqi insurgent attacks. In May, Bill commented on the costs of war, saying, "Entering its fifth year, the war's costs are soaring so fast the website costofwar.com uses a non-stop digital counter to keep up with the spending. In today's dollars, it's projected to become the most expensive war in recent history — reaching nearly $1 trillion." (In March 2008, the Journal highlighted the documentary Body of War, the story of American soldier Tomas Young, shot just days after his arrival in Iraq and paralyzed, just one of nearly 30,000 wounded since the war began.)

    In April 2007, 32 were shot and killed by a lone gunman at Virginia Tech University. Poet Nikki Giovanni, a professor at Virginia Tech, remembers that day and the memorial poem she wrote for those who died: "We are alive to the imagination and the possibility we will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears, through all this sadness... We will prevail, we will prevail, we will prevail. We are Virginia Tech."

    Bill Moyers Essay: "The Costs of War" — May 11, 2007
  • May 2008

    Marriage Equality Fight in California

    In May, California legalized same-sex marriage, but just months later, in November, voters there approved a constitutional amendment to ban it. In 2009, the amendment's constitutionality was upheld by the California Supreme Court, but attorneys David Boies, a liberal, and Ted Olson, conservative, filed a successful legal challenge in federal court on behalf of two same-sex couples. Watch this February 2010 interview from Bill Moyers Journal. "I think this is not a liberal or conservative issue," Boies says. "It's not a Republican or Democratic issue. I think conservatives and liberals alike need the Constitution. Conservatives and liberals alike want to keep the government out of regulating our personal conduct."

    In this 2010 "Moyers Moment" from "Bill Moyers Journal," the lawyers explain the constitutional basis for their argument. — Feb. 26, 2010
  • October 2008

    Financial Meltdown & Obama Elected

    In October, acting to prevent a worldwide financial collapse, President Bush signed a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry after the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual. Bill interviewed economist James K. Galbraith about the crash and the bailout on Bill Moyers Journal. "What needs to be stressed is that we've seen a breakdown of an entire system," Galbraith said. "The consequence of the failure of regulation, of supervision of the banking system over the past eight years, has been to cause a collapse of trust, a poisoning of the well."

    The following month, Barack Obama was elected the first African-American president of the United States. On this post-election edition of Bill Moyers Journal, Bill said, "It would take, finally, someone like Barack Obama, who, if he had been born a generation earlier, could have been lynched for the audacity of hope, but who now saw that America was changing, is changing, has changed, and that he might be the agent for lifting from around our necks this great stone from the past, by refusing himself to be haunted or ruled by it. He will of course disappoint; all presidents do — and the first black president will be no more exempt from reality and human nature than the 43 white men who came before him."

    A Bill Moyers Essay: A look back at change and hope within the new Obama administration. — Nov. 7, 2008
  • 2009

    Poet W.S. Merwin Awarded Pulitzer Prize

    In April, poet W.S. Merwin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for "The Shadow of Sirius," the second time he had received the prestigious award. In June, Merwin and Bill spoke about life and poetry on Bill Moyers Journal. "I think that poetry and the most valuable things in our lives... come out of what we don't know." Merwin says. "They don't come out of what we do know. They come out of what we do know, but what we do know doesn't make them. The real source of them is beyond that. It's something we don't know. They arise by themselves. And that's a process that we never understand."

    Bill talks with celebrated poet and recent Pulitzer Prize recipient M.S. Merwin. — June 26, 2009
  • January 2010

    Howard Zinn and Citizens United

    In January, historian Howard Zinn died at the age of 87. Shortly before his passing, in December 2009, Zinn taped an interview on Bill Moyers Journal and said, "Live your own life. Think your own ideas. And don't depend on saviors. Don't depend on the Founding Fathers, on Andrew Jackson, on Theodore Roosevelt, on Lyndon Johnson, on Obama. Don't depend on our leaders to do what needs to be done."

    Echoing Zinn's warning, in January, the US Supreme Court's 5-4 Citizens United decision sent floods of corporate and anonymous cash pouring into political campaigns. In its aftermath, Bill talked with lawyer and activist Zephyr Teachout and Monica Youn of the Brennan Center for Justice. Teachout says, "There's a sense that power, political power, is being taken away from the citizen, which is really a core idea of this country."

    Martín Espada reads the poem he wrote to honor his good friend, historian and activist Howard Zinn. — Jan. 17, 2013
  • March 2010

    Affordable Care Act Passes

    In March, the Affordable Care Act, the Obama health care plan, was narrowly passed by Congress and signed into law. On the Journal, shortly before passage, Bill talked with health care advocates Wendell Potter and Marcia Angell. Potter, a former health insurance executive, told Bill he supports the legislation, but "I don't like the fact that it doesn't include the public option... And I hope that maybe in future years, Congress can revisit that... I'm frankly pretty amazed that we're getting this close to passing something." (See Potter's July 2009 appearance on the Journal, in which he described his journey from health insurance public relations man to activist for health reform.)

    Shortly before the bill passed, Moyers spoke with Dr. Margaret Flowers about her fight for a single-payer health care system. She argued that a single-payer system would pay for itself, saving huge amounts of money in administrative costs, and provide better care for patients: "I want to take care of them. And when you build that relationship with your patient and you get to know them, you can provide the best care for them — not the way things are right now."

    Shortly before the bill passed Congress, Bill talked to pediatrician Margaret Flowers about pressing the president for health insurance reform. — Feb. 5, 2010
  • 2011

    Occupy Wall Street

    In September, Occupy Wall Street began, as demonstrators took over a small park in Manhattan's Financial District to protest income inequality and malfeasance in corporate America. On the first edition of Moyers & Company in January 2012, Bill offered an essay on the impact of the Occupy movement, and in a web extra, talked with two of the movement organizers.

    Bill Moyers Essay: What's the common cause behind Occupy protesters? — March 1, 2012
  • 2012

    Aurora and Newtown

    Two horrible incidents of gunfire and bloodshed marked the year. In July 2012, twelve were killed and 70 wounded after a gunman opened fire in Aurora, Colorado, at a midnight showing of a Batman movie, The Dark Knight. Watch this Moyers & Company essay from Bill: "We have become so gun loving, so blasé about home-grown violence that in my lifetime alone, far more Americans have been casualties of domestic gunfire than have died in all our wars combined."

    In December, 28 were murdered, including 20 schoolchildren, killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On Dec. 20, Bill presented this essay on the deaths. And in May 2013, he spoke with Newtown parents Francine and David Wheeler, who lost their son, and folksinger and gun control advocate Peter Yarrow.

    In this timely broadcast essay, Bill urges us to remember the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre by name. — Dec. 20, 2012
  • October 2012

    Obama vs. Romney

    Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were the Republican Party nominees for president and vice president, running against incumbents Barack Obama and Joe Biden. In this October 2012 essay, Bill talked about corporate pressure on employees to vote for Romney: "When the Supreme Court made its infamous Citizens United decision, liberating plutocrats to buy our elections fair and square, the justices may have effectively overturned rules that kept bosses from ordering employees to do political work on company time."

    Obama and Biden won re-election, and author Bob Herbert, on Moyers & Company, observed: "I think that people should be cautious in assessing what may come out of this election... But I don't think that we can get any kind of real healing in this country until we start acknowledging these deep divides... There's the ethnic, racial and ethnic divide and then there's the class divide and we're in trouble if we don't do something about them."

    Bill calls out corporate executives strong-arming their employees to vote as they say. — Oct. 19, 2012
  • November 2012

    Hurricane Sandy

    Halloween season saw Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern US, causing 157 deaths and $65 billion in damage. Bill spoke with author and climate activist Naomi Klein on hurricanes and capitalism. Klein: "Here you have a crisis that was created by a collision between heavy weather... colliding with weak infrastructure, because of years and years of neglect. And the free market solutions to this crisis are, ‘Let's just get rid of the public infrastructure altogether and drill for more oil,' which is the root cause of climate change. So that's their shock doctrine. And I think it's time for a people's shock."

    Watch how Occupy Sandy and other community organizations are helping some of New York's most vulnerable residents in the wake of the superstorm. — Nov. 16, 2012
  • 2013

    Lawrence Lessig on Big Brother's Prying Eyes

    In June, the first articles based on intelligence data leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden were published. The US government charged him with theft of government property and violations of the Espionage Act. On Moyers & Company, Bill spoke with law professor Lawrence Lessig on the the pervasiveness of government surveillance revealed by Snowden. Lessig said, "When Snowden describes agents having the authority to pick and choose who they're going to be following on the basis of their hunch about what makes sense and what doesn't make sense this is the worst of both worlds. We have a technology now that gives them access to everything, but a culture if again it's true that encourages them to be as wide ranging as they can."

    Professor and activist Lawrence Lessig tells Bill that government should be utilizing technology to protect our liberties as much as it does to invade our privacy. — June 13, 2013
  • 2014

    Michael Brown Dies in Ferguson, Missouri

    The police killing of young African-American Michael Brown led to protests and violence in Ferguson, Missouri. In December, there were more protests — this time in New York City, as a Staten Island grand jury refused to indict a policeman involved in chokehold death of African-American Eric Garner. These and other deaths caused by confrontations with police led to a renewed national conversation on racism in America. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, appearing on Moyers & Company in May 2014, said, "I'm asking you as an American to see all of the freedoms that you enjoy and see how they are rooted in things that the country that you belong to condoned or actively participated in in the past. And that covers everything from enslavement to the era of lynching, when we effectively decided that we weren't going to afford African-Americans the same level of protection of the law."

    Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates says African-American kids get messages from our society — through television and government policies — that equate young black children to second-class citizens. — May 21, 2014
  • 2015

    FCC Approves Net Neutrality

    In February, the Federal Communications Commission approved net neutrality rules, keeping the internet equally accessible and open to all. See the 2006 entry for The Net @ Risk for an explanation of what was at stake, as well as Bill's conversations with former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, media analyst Susan Crawford and the late David Carr of The New York Times.

    In this clip, Susan Crawford and David Carr explain what happens if the government decides some can pay for faster access to the net than others. — May 2, 2014
  • 2015

    Nine Dead in Charleston

    Racism and armed violence came together yet again as June saw another horrible mass murder by gunfire, when a young white male allegedly killed nine at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. See Bill's 2012 comments on Aurora and Newtown, as well as his 2014 conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Also, watch Bill's 2007 conversation with theologian James Cone on The Cross and the Lynching Tree.

    In this "Moyers Moment" from the 1982 series "Creativity," esteemed poet Maya Angelou travels with Bill to her childhood town of Stamps, Arkansas, where she experienced the brutality of racial discrimination. — Jan. 8, 1982